tisdag 30 januari 2018

20mm Plastic German Infantry for September 1939 - and thoughts about Battlegroup

The whole platoon assembled! Included is also a three men "Forward HQ" (the "alte häse" lacks a staff car though)
I've been working on my 20 mm (1:72/1:76 scale) figures during the end of last year. They were originally made for the Chain of Command ruleset (and I still intend to use them for that as well). However, lately I've been playing some Battlegroup, and while I'll mostly use my 15mm minis (FoW-figs) for that game I do like to play skirmish in 20mm, and BG is good for those 2-hour games.

Battlegroup is a great ruleset, a bit like a more detailed Flames of War - with much better army lists. I actually don't despise the rules in Fow V4 (in many ways they are a improvement over V3), but I do miss the historical feel of the earlier version (which I played for more than 7 years). This is mainly due to the simplified army lists and a community which more and more focuses on tournament play. This may work great for some, but I don't like seeing Italian desert troops squaring of against a Polish armoured train for example. I'd rather play a SF-game then (which I occasionally do). Somehow this is reflected in the rules and in the way the game is promoted. Back in the days, one could find "obscure" stuff like the Slovak fast division in a free PDF on the website. Now it's all just tanks, tanks, and tanks. And all that fender-to-fender driving! Playing wargames for me is a visual experience, and sadly most FoW-games look like one big tank park to me. But I won't judge anyone liking that, and I will also keep on playing my friendly games since FoW is a good way to play with larger formations without getting bogged down timewise.

Battlegroup, however, tries to give one the right historical "feeling" while not getting overly detailed. A small skirmish can be over with in a matter of 2 hours, even with me talking all the time.
One negative thing is that some of the rules could have been better explained - one is assumed to figure things out by one self. While it is nice to be trusted and given the opportunity to alter the rules to ones perception of historical reality, things like what is a team and what's not are confusing at times. The learning curve is at times a bit to steep because of that, even though the rules themselves are quite easy to get a grip on. But this is not unique for any wargame.
MG-team from FtF and Pegasus (the kneeling rifleman).
Back to the figures - these Germans are normal schutzen, nothing out of the ordinary here. They are made for the Polish campaign, September 1939, with jackboots, stone-grey trousers and feldgrau M36 jackets. All are armed with Kar-98's, with three MG-34's for support. The platoons back then were larger than the ones later on in the war, numbering whole 13 men per squad - and yes, it took ages to paint.
Left to right: Figures from First to Fight, Elheim (x2) and Pegasus

The figures are hard and soft plastic mainly (I was on a budget when I started this some two years ago) and are from several companies: First To Fight ("German Infantry 1939", "German Infantry Support Weapons" and "German Command") and Pegasus ("German Army Infantry 1939"). These are the only companies that make Germans that are actually for September 1939 - most manufacturers make miniatures with the "Y-straps" even for the early part of the ear while almost all photos from this period show no such straps (even in France). Since I intend to only use those in Poland, I want them to be more accurate for my chosen period.

MG-team from Pegasus

MG-team from First To Fight
 The FtF ones have some fun poses (not all though), but are somewhat lacking in some details (like the strap for gas mask container). The soft plastic is a bit off putting as well. Overall, their Polish infantry (seen in a earlier post on this blog, back when I started the project) is much better.
Pegasus miniatures

The Pegasus figures are a bit small, being 1/76 rather that 1/72 but since real men have different heights its not that much of a problem to me, especially since I've tried to keep them in separate squads. The plastic is quite hard, and requires some assembly. The poses are realistic, with many of the soldiers trying to keep a low profile. What I can't understand is the amount of guys armed with MP-38's, a weapon that was seldom used during the Polish campaign. Still, I've used one of those because "the rule of cool"... he's in the platoon HQ, of course. Someone got lucky!

The Elheim metal figures.
I also had three metal figures, from Elheim miniatures. Great sculpting as always, although some of the shovels seem a bit to small. Where it not for the Y-straps, I've would have bought even more of them. They do mix pretty well with the figures from FtF (though bit on the "heavy" side), but I wouldn't place them too close to the Pegasus ones.

Kneeling riflemen from (left to right): FtF, Elheim, Pegasus
Comparison of riflemen: FtF (left) and Pegasus (right)

Oh, and I do apologize for the photos - they are taken with my cellphone since taking out the camera is quite a process these days. I wanted to post some photos pretty quickly, rather than waiting another year before making an update ;)

tisdag 12 september 2017

Team Yankee 6mm Polish Tank Battalion

Who's got small hands now, huh!?
I can't believe it – it's actually been almost two (2) years since my last update! Crazy. And a bit sad, since I had big plans for this blog once! But live and learn, right?

Too many hobbies, to little time (and money). Anyway, it doesn't mean that I haven't been busy. I've done some nerdy stuff and even had the opportunity to do some gaming. I won't bore you with every one of my projects during the last two years (well, not yet – hopefully I'll make more posts in the future!), but here are some pics of a project that I started and actually finished earlier this year.

Team Yankee in 6mm

I've been playing a bit of Team Yankee, and decided that 15mm is way to big for any games larger than a reinforced platoon. Sorry Battlefront, but it just looks horrible with hordes of modern armoured vehicles going fender-to-fender on regular 6x4 tabletops. Besides the aesthetics of it, the table gets filled with minis and manoeuvring looks more like chess rather than a miniature wargame. I think that 15mm works on 30-40 points though, so I won't stop playing it (unless the coming Battlegroup rules change that...).

However, in 6mm it works just great! It looks and feels better, even with (almost) no rule changes. Oh, and I've halved down the size of the bases for infantry – I use small FoW-bases instead of medium ones for the infantry, and half sized small ones for weapon teams like the RPG-teams. Any large size teams (I don't have any yet) would be placed on medium sized bases.

The distances makes more sense too, even though they are still a bit off (3mm would be more correct), especially regarding artillery. Still, it feels way better.

Batalion Pancerny, marsz!

So, being into Polish military history I decided to build a Polish T-72 battalion (so far using the East German rules). Since it's 6mm I also liked the possibility to make all of the fighting elements in a chosen unit. Well, at least the ones that would be on table using the TY-ruleset.

In order to keep costs down, but still have decent miniatures I bought everything from Heroics&Ross. Sure, it's not GHQ – but it didn't break my bank either. It still looks good if one paints it right.

I went quite generic with my army - this could be any of the updated Polish tank battalions, with the most up-to-date gear available around 1986 (I really don't buy that this is 1985 anymore...). It should be one the units in 1st army though, poised towards northern Germany and Denmark (the Jutland army group). Doing some research, I finally opted for the following list:

1 HQ-tank:

3 Armoured Companies; 10 tanks each (1 command tank and 3 platoons with 3 T-72's in them). One of the companies got the T-72M, while the rest got the T-72M1 variant (the one depicted in TY):
T-72M, the first export version built in Poland
The T-72M1, not built in Poland until 1986

1 Recon company (with 7 BRDM-2's – 1 command vehicle and 3 small platoons with 2 cars each):

1 Self-propelled AA-company, with 4 ZSU-23-4 in 2 platoons:

1 Infantry company, made up of 10 BWP-1's (3 platoons and one command vehicle) and infantry. BWP is by the way the polish name of the the BMP:

As far as I've seen there were no separate PKM-platoons in the Polish army. Instead the PKM was used as a squad support weapon! I've yet to have to change the spec's in TY to reflect this...

By the way - I like most of the H&R-models, but the BMP-1 just doesn't look right. Here's a comparison with the Battlefront one in 15mm:


Since I'm comparing scales - the difference between 15mm and 6mm is really big:

 Anyway - thats a Polish armoured battalion around 1986. I haven't made the sappers though, since they don't have any rules in TY.

This battalion has some divisional support too, in the shape of two 3-gun batteries of the self-propelled 2s1 "Goździk":

...and two platoons of the 9m31 Strzała-1 AA-system:

All vehicles were painted with Vallejo Air US Dark Green as a base, pin-washed with Army painters Strong tone, drybrushed with Vallejo Grey green and with some high-contrast highligts with Vallejo Deck Tan. The bases were painted Vallejo Flat earth, drybrushed with sand and grey paints. The infantry was painted Vallejo Grey green, over a Field Grey base.

In a hopefully not too distant future, I plan to buy and build a battalion of T-55AM "Meridas", to swap with the T-72's, and some TOPAS transports (a BTR50pk variant) for the Polish marines and a company of PT-76 tanks. Oh, and some Danish resistance...

 And lastly - an epic photobomb by my fiancée:


lördag 7 november 2015

Commission work - Infinity Corregidor Starter set

About a week ago I finished a small commission for a friend. I don't do these to often, nor do I claim to be the best at it, but I think he was satisfied with the work! 

The Infinity figures are very well sculpted, and overall I liked the poses. Though someone really should tell people that women in uniform tend to look like men in uniforms, not like pinups. And that sports bra's might be an option in the future aswell. 

On the other hand, realism is not really an option in this Anime-inspired game. It's just that a bit of variation wouldn't hurt. The same goes for the male models, though I wouldn't mind having a tight butt like that! I have to work out more...eh...start to...nevermind, I'll just talke another piece of that cake instead.

The brush strokes are far too heavy, in my opinion, and the lighting effect only worked to some degree. I may have to work more on the yellow, too - a hard colour if any to work with!

I have some more to do in the near future, maybe I'll even give it a try with my airbrush (that is, if the compressor holds up - the other day, it gave up for a brief time during painting, coughing and generally giving me a scare).

Hope you'll like them!


onsdag 21 oktober 2015

One S'hot too many - an Israel vs. Egypt after action report!

This guy blew my mind...

The other week me and my friend and opponent - Mr. Krieger -  played a Flames of War game, and since I'm really looking forward to the coming cold war version of FoW, "Team Yankee", I wanted to play the next best thing - the Arab-Israeli war of 1967!

Now, we decided that Mr: Krieger would play the Israelis, while took command of the egyptian (or United Arab Republic(s), actually) heavy armour.
We decided on about 1400 pts each - mostly since thats all my UAR-forces can muster. It's an expensive army! The Israelis have been seen here in my last post, and being super-duper-shots-with-veterans are quite cost effective and quicker to paint...
These were the Israeli tankers:

Eight tanks - of which four are a real pain in the bum (front 12, AT 18!) - and nine infantry bases, including two belgian bazookas!
Against this armoured spear plowing through the Sinai desert were these Egyptian warriors: 

Thats 25 tanks, 29 if you count the armoured transports, supported by four bases of infantry with a...Belgian bazooka (was there a discount on Blindicides around -67 or something?). If that wasn't enough, some MIG's have managed to get airborne, despite the Israeli air fighters clutteirng the desert skies.
Eleven tanks are heavy Iosef Stalins, with an impressive front armour (13 in FoW), and an AT 15 gun. The other tank company is nine T-55's, with front 12 and AT 16. Still, all of those tanks have only ROF 1, and are rated conscripts - making them very easy to hit (2+).

Forward! Counterattack! Push the Israelis back to the sea! Throw better dice!

So, on to the battlefield! My desert board is a bit smaller than 6x4, being rather 5x3,5. Still, its big enough, and being the Sinai desert, I chose to keep some open areas. I put a road and a town next to it, in the midst of the board, making a good reason for the fighting to take place here! Capturing this town is probably vital to the Israelis if they are to keep their momentum.

The battlefield before setup
I think we rolled for a scenario, which was Dust Up - the table is divided into quarters, and each side places an objective in their and the opponents deployment quarter. Half of each force must then be placed in reserves. These arrive from opposite the starting quarters. The goal is simple - take an objective in your enemies corner, while defending your own!

I chose my T-55's and the AA-tanks as my reserves, deploying the recon company and the IS-tanks to guard the objective.  With their heavy front and side armour, they should be a real tough nut to crack. The recon company will use their spearhead move, to try a flanking maneuver, or just generally keep the pressure on the Israelis, perhaps forcing them to make a mistake.

Mr. Krieger chose his infantry to deploy on the board, digging in, smoking cigarettes, and drinking some water in a oasis. Since warrior teams do not count as platoons, the first and second in command S'hots should be able to hold out until the rest of the S'hots arrive. 

Both forces set-up before the battle commences

The first two turns started with the UAR forces moving forward using the spearhead move, hoping that the Israelis would miss, or at least not focus on the Stalins! The Israelis however quickly dispatched two PT-76's and the leading BTR50, bailing one tank on the first turn. Then they went on and wrecked an IS-3 and bailed another... However, the bailed PT-76 kept being bailed, keeping that platoon in play for a while longer.
Seeing the IS-3's getting hit by Israeli deathrays, I moved back the Stalins, hiding them them behind the safe walls of the town. Yes, I'm a coward, so sue me!

End of the second turn...

The Egyptian turn 2 started good though, with the T-55s arriving from reserves. They immidiately moved forward, manage to get into range and even roll a six - killing the commanding S'hot! And if that wasn't enough, a flight of MIG-17's swoop down, aiming for the other, killing it in a hail of cannon fire...

Ka-blam! The T-55's score a hit and kill the Israeli commander!

The MIG (yes, I know its unpainted!) manages a straight hit into the Centurions weak rear top armour...

...however, on the Israeli turn 3, the two reserve S'hots arrive, avenging their falling comerades. Still, things looked good for me! 

The next batch of Israeli S'hots roll out, guns blazing

On the Egyptian third turn I moved forward the T-55's, aiming straight for the objective, while my IS-tanks started to slowy move towards the lower edge of the board. My plan being to secure that end off the table against the AMX's (soon to arrive from reserve), and after that move along the narrow lane between the town and the hill towards the objective.

This was the end of the Israeli turn 3, if my memory serves me right...

On the following turn, the T-55's managed to take out one more S'hot, while moving onto the objective. Those stabilizers surely make a difference - despite the ROF1 one can hit enemies on 5's and 6's, much is better than not at all!  Mr. Kriegers AMX-13 light tanks also rolled out, with an intention to flank the T-55's - but the last S'hot retaliated, finishing off another two T-55's and forcing the three remaining Egyptian tanks to go home.

However, spirits were high in the Egyptian command. With only one S'hot left, the fast-hitting AA ZSU-57-2 tanks rolling in and most of my IS tanks on the table - the only real threat (I thought) was the AMX tanks.

End of Turn 4 - I've hid the ZSU-57's behond a flaming IS-tank, in case the AMX's were to make a silly move. The IS tanks continue to slowly roll around the edge of the town walls...

Turn 5 was here, and the AMX-tanks moved out, ready to charge the Stalin-tanks in the next turn. This didn't worry me much though, since the AMX-tanks, with only rather weak cannons (AT14, ROF1) could only damage the sides of my Stalins (with side 11 armour!), at best. The S'hot tried to kill my heavies, but missed.

On this turn, I did however start to feel the problem of moving 10 slow going tanks through a small lane. I didn't want to risk any bogchecks (I tend to roll 1's then), so there was no tank that moved through the walled garden either. Still, if I can fend off the light tanks, nothting will stop me from pushing the IDF back home!

I should have moved the ZSU's from that objective...

As I had hoped for, the AMX's tried to flank my Stalins - only to be shot to pieces and forced to retreat, with no real damage done to my heavy behemots. The deciding shot came from the last PT-76, from that unfortunate recon company, still hiding in the town.  One IS-tank was blown up by that S'hot, still, nothing to worry about. I poured us some Ouzo, thinking that Mr. Krieger might need some reconciliation.

The AMX-13 tanks are routed or destroyed. As the AA-tanks finally move, in order to support the attack, I was confident that nothing could stop me from winning! [SPOILER  - I was wrong...]

So, turn 7. Two Stalins manage to roll onto the objective. The S'hot takes up a good shoooting position, where he can only see those two tanks as his closest targets, forcing me to apply any taken hits on them. Using the centurions stabiliser, he scores two hits (only 3+, even though moving) and kills them.
That's ok.
There's plenty more left.

Well this is annoying. Moving backward isn't an option though, not with these slow beasts, conscripts and all. Once this company started moving, there wasn't really much left to do but keep on forward
On the Israeli 8th round, that single Israeli hero managed to hit and kill my commander. Bailing out of the burning wreck, I continued to shout my orders. Or at least I like to imagine I did.
The S'hot made a nice Israeli stormtrooper move, and moved out of my line of fire.

Trying to make our Soviet advisors proud, the UAR moved on, while the ZSU's sneaked round the hill, hoping for a flank shot. The MIG-17 flight returned, again swooping down on the single S'hot....and missed. No worries! 

Well, exept that I no longer had any commander.
And that tank was still alive.

That MIG will miss. However, a base of IDF infantry was gunned down by the Stalins, as they contested the objective. I was again in control of our flag...

The Egyptian commander, problably wounded and without any radio, forced the recon company move out and assault the enemy infantry that have moved forward, contesting the objective and even digging in!
Now, a wiser commander would have been satisified with only taking up positions next to the Israelis, using the hull mounted guns and the las PT-76 to dig them out of there.
Maybe that Ouzo was a bad idea? 

I don't really remeber, it's all kind of hazy, but the S'hot killed some more IS-tanks, before hiding further back behind the oasis.

Egyptian turn 9 - CHARGE! They can only hit you on 2+ in defensive fire, what could possibly go wrong?
As I should have realized, charging an LMG and angry dug in FN-FAL rifle teams meant that all of the Egyptian infantrymen went down, forcing the company to roll a morale check. This they promptly failed, and drove home as fast as the soviet engines could carry them.
The IS-tanks however, even though losing more than half of their tanks, managed to suceed their morale check and stayed on the board.

So, on the last Egyptian turn, my IS-3's rolled onto the objective. Their next target was to shoot and possibly assault the IDF infantry.

Now, the ZSU's sped round the hill, hiding behind a flaming wreck, ready to flank shot that... S'hot. Mr. Krieger had carelessly exposed his turrets side, making it possible for my AT11 guns to take him out. I only have to hit the tank (with four shots on 5+), hit the turret (4+), and hope that Mr. Krieger rolls below 5+ for me to win. Oh, and I have to roll a good firepower test too. Not the greatest odds, but I was growing desperate - even if the IS-tanks defeat the infantry, that S'hot could easily take them out in the next round and any further lost tank meant another morale check.

The IS-tanks shot the IDF-infantry dead. 
Then the ZSU's fired, and missed. 
That's bad. 
Really bad. 
The IS-tanks made an "shooting to sucessful" move, regrouped on the objective and we all waited for the return fire from that damned, stinking, evil, super-s'hot.

Egyptian turn 10, right before the shooting phase.

Blam. The Israeli tank slowly turned his turret, took aim, and blew the Egyptian tanks into smitherines. 
Seeing this, the four remaining UAR tanks - since long missing their commander - automatically failed the force morale at the beggining of the Egyptian turn, and fled back the way they came. 
I had lost.
To one, single S'hot. That tank managed to take out 6 IS-3's and two ZSU's, winning the battle almost all by itself! Impressive.

Israeli turn 11, right after the shooting phase.

The battle ended as the Israeli forces moved in to the now undefended town, opening the route for following IDF forces. Losses were heavy, but the Egyptian counter attack had been thwarted...

After the battle, the area is littered with burning wrecks...

...as the remaining Israeli forces plan their next move - yes, mr. pointing-infantry-guy, no need to rub it in!

All in all, an exciting and very entertaining game. Sure, we problaby missed some rules, and I should have used my units much better - but I always enjoy a game that has it's own narrative, instead of the metagaming so common in pointbased games like FoW. 
We both had great fun, and I didn't mind losing at all - it could have gone either way right to the last round. In the end, it was one s'hot too many...

Now, I should finish the last half-painted units in my UAR-army (including that MIG) as we all wait for Team Yankee!